Green on top at Head of Conn.

by Lane Verlenden | 10/15/03 5:00am

Dartmouth's lightweights made a big splash in Middleton, Conn., last Sunday at the 29th annual Head of the Connecticut Regatta. In their first regatta of the 2003-2004 season, the men's lightweight varsity eight captured the gold medal, while the lightweight varsity four rowed to a second place finish.

In cold, wet and windy conditions on the Connecticut, the lightweight varsity eight defended its gold medal in the 3.5 mile intermediate heavyweight competition by taking the race with a time of 17:25.40, slightly slower than last year's 16:25.69 finish.

Dartmouth's eight, which happened to be the only lightweight crew entered into the race of more than 20 heavyweight crews, edged out Marist College by a mere three seconds for the victory. Rowing both smoothly and aggressively, the lightweight eight was forced to avoid several straggling women's fours for the final two miles of the race.

Coach Dick Grossman applauded coxswain Mia Heetderk '04's performance, crediting much of the team's victory to her ability to successfully navigate the crowded course while maintaining a decent boat speed.

The lightweight varsity eight, which consists of co-captain John Hertzer '04, co-captain Jamie Perencevich '04, Rob Rose '06, Adam Barsky '05, Jamie Richardson '06, Hye-Keun Lee '04, Mike Mina '06 and Tom Tunguz '04, is one of the most technically superb crews that Grossman has seen for many years at Dartmouth.

Grossman added, however, that the team was not physically at the level of the top lightweight collegiate crews, and that it would take an outstanding winter of training to reach that peak level.

Medaling for the second consecutive year, the men's lightweight varsity four finished well ahead of Fordham University and safely secured the silver medal with a mark of 19:06.24. This time was the fastest college finishing time posted at the event. The lightweight four, which finished behind the New York Athletic Club, was manned by Richardson, Hertzer, Barsky and Rose.

"This was a great start to the season, and we're looking to gain even more speed for the Head of the Charles, where we will face all of our Ivy rivals," Hertzer said. "A lot of the sophomores have been stepping up, and this varsity boat experience will come to be very important for the spring racing season."

Perencevich had only the highest praise for the team, emphasizing every members' hard-working contribution to the team.

Other results from the Connecticut regatta were a 12th place finish for Dartmouth's second lightweight eight and an 11th place finish for Dartmouth's championship four.

The Dartmouth crew teams head to Boston on October 18 for the prestigious 39th annual Head of the Charles Regatta.

In Boston, Dartmouth will face a more competitive group of teams than at the Head of the Connecticut. The list of entries includes the U.S. National lightweight team as well as the best lightweight college crews within the U. S. and Canada.

"It will take a better race than last Sunday's just to be competitive in this group. But this is a very focused, level-headed group, so I won't be surprised to see that kind of a performance," commented Grossman on the upcoming regatta.

Last year the men's lightweight varsity eight finished 6th in a field of about 40 boats, being beaten by the winner New York Athletic Club by approximately 2.8 lengths.